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Rachel Siders, 41, Roseville, California, was sentenced to 14 and a half years in prison for her involvement in mortgage fraud schemes that cost financial institutions over $17 million.

Federal juries returned verdicts in two trials, in March 2015 and December 2015 finding her guilty of multiple counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, making a false loan application, and committing aggravated identity theft.

According to evidence presented at the first trial, in 2008 Siders and co-defendant Theo Adams, 50, Roseville, California, applied for a home equity line of credit using his relative’s name on an underwater Roseville property owned by Adams. They submitted false tax returns in the relative’s name with significantly inflated income along with mortgage application documents with forged signatures. Siders, a notary public, falsely notarized the loan application documents, which were sent to Washington Mutual Bank. The bank relied upon the false documents to provide a $250,000 line of credit. Siders received $170,000 of the proceeds. After making minimal payments, the defendants defaulted on the loan.

According to evidence presented at the second trial, from mid-2006 through early 2008, Siders and Vera Kuzmenko, 46, Loomis, California, and other defendants engaged in a mortgage fraud scheme involving over 30 properties in the Sacramento area. They secured more than $30 million in residential mortgage loans on more than 30 homes purchased through straw buyers. The loan applications contained materially false information as to the straw buyers’ income, employment, assets, and intent to occupy the residences. Records introduced at trial showed that Vera Kuzmenko received millions of dollars, and that Rachel Siders received hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Vera Kuzmenko, was a licensed real estate agent for part of the scheme, and Rachel Siders ran the Rocklin office of the escrow company used on the majority of the transactions. She helped funnel millions of dollars to her co-defendants, which was not disclosed to the lenders.

U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez imposed the sentence.

On March 15, 2016, Judge Mendez sentenced Vera Kuzmenko to 14 years in prison. She was found guilty of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and witness tampering. On April 19, 2016, Theo Adams, 50, of Roseville, was sentenced to two years in prison. Previously, Judge Mendez sentenced co-defendants Peter Kuzmenko, 38, West Sacramento, California, to 19 years in prison; Aaron New, 42, Sacramento, California, to 11 years and three months in prison; Nadia Kuzmenko, 37, formerly of Loomis, California, to eight years in prison; and Edward Shevtsov, 52, North Highlands, California, to eight years in prison. They were found guilty on February 13, 2015, after a 21-day trial, of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud associated with the mortgage fraud scheme. In addition, Peter Kuzmenko, Edward Shevtsov, and Aaron New were found guilty of money laundering associated with the scheme, and Nadia Kuzmenko was found guilty of witness tampering.

The sentence today reflects the seriousness of Siders’ crimes, which included participation in two separate mortgage fraud schemes. Over the course of two years, Siders oversaw and participated in numerous fraudulent loans and diverted money into shell accounts for her own benefit. She abused her position as an escrow officer and as a notary public to make this criminal enterprise succeed,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert. “The sentence imposed is a significant reminder that those who engage in such conduct will be held accountable.”

Today’s sentence sends a clear message; anyone profits from fraudulent mortgage transactions—whether by creating the scheme or facilitating it—will not escape justice,” said Supervisory Special Agent Dan Bryant at the FBI Sacramento field office. “The FBI aggressively pursues those involved in such large-scale, complex financial fraud matters to seek justice for the victims and protect the regional economy.”

Rachel Siders was driven by greed in her participation in this mortgage fraud which targeted the Sacramento area,” said Michael T. Batdorf, Special Agent in Charge, IRS‑Criminal Investigation. “Today’s sentencing is a reminder how serious our courts consider this criminal activity and our commitment in providing financial expertise to our federal partners in these types of crimes.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee S. Bickley, Michael D. Anderson, and Matthew D. Segal prosecuted the case.

 

Luis Francisco Moreno, Greer, South Carolina, was charged by information in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina and pled guilty to two counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to the Information, Moreno was a licensed real estate broker and real estate developer.  Moreno was experiencing financial difficulties in his business ventures.  Moreno was encouraged by Person A, a closing attorney residing in Lexington, North Carolina who is now deceased, to serve as a loan applicant with Wells Fargo Bank, to purchase two pieces of property in North Carolina. Moreno provided materially false information about his assets and income in the loan applications and provided false documents, including bank statements and tax returns.  Moreno also signed false HUD-1 statements. The scheme diverted the loan proceeds from Wells Fargo.

 

Alla Samchuk, 45, Roseville, California, was found guilty in a mortgage fraud scheme involving three properties after a four day jury trial in Sacramento, California.  Samchuk was convicted of six counts of bank fraud, six counts of making a false statement to a financial institution, one count of money laundering, and one count of aggravated identity theft. After the verdict, U.S. District Court Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. ordered Samchuk taken into custody.

According to court documents, from 2006 through 2008, Samchuk, a licensed real estate salesperson, orchestrated a mortgage fraud scheme involving three properties in the Sacramento area using straw buyers. Two of the houses were purchased so that Samchuk herself could occupy them. She lacked the ability to qualify for a loan, so she instead recruited straw buyers to apply for the loans in their names. Samchuk caused the submission of loan applications containing false representations of income, employment, assets, and a false indication that the straw buyers would occupy the homes as their primary residence.

A second objective of the scheme was to obtain HELOC (home equity line of credit) funds. According to evidence at trial, on two of the properties, Samchuk diverted or attempted to divert HELOC funds to her own benefit. Samchuk caused the HELOC loans to fund by submitting false statements and documents to the lender regarding the qualifications of the straw buyers.

The scheme involved two properties in Roseville, California and one in El Dorado Hills, California. In 2007, Samchuk filed an application for a HELOC on one of the properties without the straw buyer’s knowledge or consent. To obtain the HELOC, she forged the signature of the straw buyer on a short form deed of trust that she caused to be notarized and recorded. The stated purpose of the HELOC was home improvement, but once the line of credit was funded, Samchuk quickly diverted all of the funds to her own use, spending the proceeds on a Lexus and the repayment of a substantial personal debt.

Sentencing is set for October 21, 2016. Samchuk faces a maximum of 30 years in prison for each count of bank fraud and false statements to a financial institution, 10 years in prison for money laundering, and two years in prison for aggravated identity theft.

The verdict was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert. This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Audrey B. Hemesath and Andre M. Espinosa are prosecuting the case.

Murray O. Wilhoite, Jr., 68, Franklin, Tennessee, was convicted of three felony charges following a trial before U.S. District Court Judge Aleta A. Trauger.  The jury convicted Wilhoite of making a false statement to a bank, making a false statement in a federal bankruptcy filing, and making a false statement under oath during a bankruptcy hearing.

Evidence presented during the trial demonstrated that Wilhoite obtained a $1.2 million loan in December 2007 by pledging, as collateral, a Franklin, Tennessee property that he did not own. During trial, testimony and exhibits proved that Wilhoite knowingly misrepresented to an FDIC-insured bank that he owned certain real property that he pledged as collateral. However, as trial evidence proved, the property was owned at all relevant times by his father.

In documents signed during the closing for this loan, Wilhoite falsely represented that he was the owner and titleholder of the property, and the bank relied on his statements in permitting him to obtain a loan using the Franklin property as collateral in lieu of a down payment.  Wilhoite subsequently lied during a 2011 bankruptcy filing, by again misrepresenting that he owned the Franklin property, and did so for the purpose of preventing the bank from foreclosing on this property after he defaulted on his loan. Wilhoite lied again at a 2013 hearing before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, during which he perjured himself by falsely stating that he had not known that the Franklin property was designated as collateral for the loan. The evidence at trial proved that Wilhoite made the bankruptcy-related false statements knowingly and with the intent to deceive.

Wilhoite faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000 on the false statement to a bank charge, and up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 on the other charges. Wilhoite will be sentenced by Judge Trauger on September 23, 2016. The sentence will be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and applicable federal statutes.

The conviction was announced by announced United States Attorney David Rivera.  The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the United States Trustee. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra G. Moses and William F. Abely.

Ataollah Aminpour aka John Aminpour, aka Johnny Aminpour, the former chief marketing officer at Mirae Bank, 57, Beverly Hills, California was indicted by a federal grand jury on eight counts of bank fraud and making false statements in connection with allegations that he was responsible for the bank issuing $150 million in fraudulent loans – loans that caused the bank to suffer $33 million in losses and were “a significant factor in Mirae Bank’s failure as a financial institution in 2009.”

According to the indictment, Aminpour held himself out as a successful businessman who could help people obtain financing for gas station and car wash businesses with little or no down payment. In some cases, Aminpour personally identified businesses to be purchased and negotiated a sale price, but he allegedly overstated the actual purchase price to buyers. For these buyers and others whom Aminpour introduced to Mirae Bank, the indictment alleges that Aminpour oversaw the loan process and provided loan officers with information and documentation that contained false facts and figures, including the actual purchase price of the business and the source of the down payment. As a result, Mirae Bank funded inflated loans, with excess funds secretly going to Aminpour, borrowers and/or “hard money lenders” who had surreptitiously provided funds used to make down payments. Continue Reading…

Edgar A. Reyes-Colón and Francisco Quintero-Peña were indicted on charges of with making false statements in loan applications in scheme to obtain money from mortgage lending institutions.. The investigation revealed that as part of the scheme and artifice to defraud, the defendants, through straw buyers, purchased a property by obtaining mortgage loans from a federally insured financial institution in amounts substantially exceeding the selling price of the property. The excess amount of the loan was kicked back to the defendants, and then they would default on payment of the monthly mortgage premiums. In order to ensure the approval of the loan, the participants created and submitted false supporting documentation along with the loan application including  financial statements, bank statements, employment verification letters and tax returns. Continue Reading…

Paul Watterson, 55, Mountainside, New Jersey, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for his role in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme that used phony documents and straw buyers to make illegal profits on over-developed condominiums in the Wildwood, New Jersey, area.  Watterson previously pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court: Continue Reading…

Gabriela Tigges, 60, Martinez, California, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and $208,186.78 in restitution, for her involvement in a bank fraud scheme related to a fraudulent mortgage loan application and a fraudulent mortgage loan modification application, 

Tigges pleaded guilty on October 1, 2015, to two counts of bank fraud.  According to the plea agreement, Tigges admitted she caused a client to submit a fraudulent mortgage loan application to World Savings Bank in approximately October 2005.  She also admitted submitting a fraudulent mortgage loan modification.  Tigges’ conduct eventually cost the bank $208,186.78 Continue Reading…

Ryan Costo, 40, Roseville, California, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for bank fraud in a scheme to defraud lenders.

According to court documents, Costo overstated his income and financial assets in connection with a $1.35 million loan from Bank of America related to the acquisition of a classic aircraft. Costo not only made false statements about his income and various bank and stock account balances on the loan application, but also caused various false and fraudulent account statements and tax returns to be given to the Bank of America in order to procure the loan. Costo made various false representations and submitted false documents to obtain three other loans: a $1.95 million loan from CitiMortgage Inc. related to a Granite Bay, California residence; a $3 million loan from Washington Mutual Bank, now Chase, related to another Granite Bay, California residence, and a $267,000 loan from San Diego Private Bank. Costo pleaded guilty to bank fraud on October 3, 2013.

United States District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. sentenced Costo.  The case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Shelley D. Weger prosecuted the case.

Edward Khalfin, 58, San Mateo, California was found guilty by a federal jury of 12 counts of mail fraud and 11 counts of making false statements on loan applications. Robin Dimiceli, 53, Brentwood, California was found guilty by a federal jury of six counts of mail fraud and six counts of making false statements on loan applications.  The convictions arise out of a builder bailout scheme that provided financial incentives to straw buyers to get them to purchase homes that developers were having difficulty selling

According to court documents, from August 2006 through May 2008, two brothers, Volodymyr Dubinsky, 56, formerly of Folsom, California, and Leonid Doubinski, 50, formerly of Copperopolis, California, built, developed, and sold real estate in Carmichael, California, Sacramento, California, and Copperopolis, California. As the real estate market declined, the brothers recruited family members, employees, and associates with good credit to act as straw buyers for residential properties. The Dubinsky brothers have not been apprehended and are fugitives thought to be residing in Ukraine. Continue Reading…